Tens of thousands of people have turned out at Anzac Day services across the nation, honouring Australian men and women who have fought and died in war.
Crowds have reached record proportions with the centenary of the famous and disastrous Gallipoli landing just one year away.
(Transcript from World News Radio)
It’s 99 years since the First World War events that sparked the great Anzac legend on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey.
Unprecedented numbers of Australians have gathered around the nation, pledging to never forget the sacrifices of their forebears.
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At one Anzac Day service in Canberra, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has sombrely reminded Australians of the horrors of war.
“Our commemorations today, as throughout the centenary, do not and will not glorify war. Rather, they honour what’s best and noblest in human nature. Australian soldiers have been called upon to do the terrible deeds that war requires, but have remained decent people. Mateship, humour and respect for an honourable foe, as well an implacable will to win have characterised the Australian soldier from that day to this.”
At the frosty dawn service at the Australian War Memorial, Victoria Cross recipient Corporal Ben Roberts Smith also honoured those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in more recent years.
He’s described the 40 Australians who died in Afghanistan as men who, like the first Anzacs, cared more about freedom and the Australian way of life than their own suffering and loss.
“Everything we understand to be the Anzac spirit is what these people dig deep and long for every day. Courage, stoicism, humour, laughter, warmth, generosity and a determination never to give in or be a burden on others. The Anzac spirit and the values it demonstrates remain our common bedrock, creed and source of hope and confidence through difficult and uncertain times in our world and our communities.”
Chief of the Army, Lieutenant-General David Morrison marked Anzac Day with Torres Strait Islanders in Queensland’s far north.
Lietenant-General Morrison told the ABC the sacrifices of Indigenous Australians in wartime have been enormous.
“Aboriginal men and women have served in the armed services of the country for over a hundred years. Of course for a large part of that time they returned from their service and weren’t bestowed the dignity we would want to enjoy as citizens which made their commitment and their sacrifice all the more noteworthy. And it’s just great to be able to be up here.”
And in a sign that Anzac Day is relevant to Australia’s increasingly multicultural society, thousands of new Australians have turned out for services across the country.
13 year old Jamilla’s family is originally from Lebanon.
They travelled from Sydney to Canberra to honour the sacrifices made for their adopted country.
“Well, we’ll show like respect of they fought for our country and if they didn’t do that here there would be a war.”
Sridevi’s family migrated from India over a decade ago and says the story of Anzac has become part of her story.
“My brother is marching. He’s part of the Australian Defence finance section. So he’s working there so we are here to support him. There are many of his colleagues from very different backgrounds so he finds it very multicultural and nice to fit in.”
On the final day of their Australian tour, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended two Anzac ceremonies in Canberra, arriving at the first service unannounced and under the cover of darkness.
The second-in-line to the throne is a Royal Air Force search and rescue pilot.